Tuesday night, Bucks Co-Owner Marc Lasry joined hoops-world magnate Rich Kleiman in a conversation at the intersection of sports and business. The two took to Zoom for the University of Wisconsin’s presentation of Kleiman’s Boardroom University series for UW students and recent alumni.
The Boardroom, originally a six-part program on ESPN’s premium ESPN+ service, brings giants from all over the sports and business world for conversations about their craft, brand and the secrets of the trade.
This was the first time I’ve ever gotten to be part of a conversation with an NBA owner and it was absolutely fascinating. I didn’t know how Kleiman would navigate the interview and I certainly didn’t know how Lasry would respond.
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The result was refreshing. The NBA offseason is known for misdirection and faulty smoke signals. So when Lasry answered honestly about his feelings toward the Bucks’ recent roster moves, I took note.
“Do you want to make the argument we gave up too much? I’ll actually agree with you,” Lasry said. “By getting [Jrue Holiday] is the probability [of retaining 2021 free agent and 2x MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo] higher? Yeah, I think it is.”
I was similarly fixated on where the two were streaming from. It never hit me just how much larger-than-life their day-to-day lives were until I realized the background for all their Zoom calls is a multi-million dollar home with pieces of art that are probably worth a small fortune. Both of these guys lived, breathed and exclusively thought about how they could be successful.
Kleiman, a sports-gambling-ring-runner turned co-founder of Thirty Five Ventures, is NBA superstar Kevin Durant’s manager and business partner. Lasry is a hedge-fund manager by day and the co-owner of one of the NBA’s fastest-growing franchises by night. The concerns of 20-year-olds could be considered below their paygrade, but when the Q&A segment of the conversation began, the two giants answered questions from students thoughtfully.
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Kleiman and Lasry answered questions about personal finance, sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives in the professional sports world, and the work ethic required for success in these ultra-competitive fields.
And when asked the Pepsi Question of the Night (asked by yours truly), Lasry answered thoughtfully about the growth of the Bucks brand over the past six years — going from worst to first in the NBA. Kleiman let loose his professional journey when asked about how he manages Durant’s creativity.
Lasry and Kleiman proved they are both examples of what happens when you bet on yourself and have the work ethic to back it up. In one of the most honest moments of the whole interview, Lasry gave his thoughts on what it takes to reach mythological levels of success.
“You have to kill yourself [over your work],” the billionaire Bucks owner said. “And read.”